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Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but
this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas
Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings
can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.
Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.
Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of
Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at
Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced
disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and
supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by
Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.
Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic
selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary
versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano
Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of
songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime
friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at
the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’
In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi.
With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been
many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s
major opera houses today.
In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions.
Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790.
During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.
Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.
It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing
traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.
As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set
compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche
Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of
orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of
the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive
There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s
Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled
Great Wagner Singers.
What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?
Since its first performance at the Teatro Santi Giovanni e Paolo during Venice’s 1643 Carnevale, Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea has been one of the most important milestones in the genesis of modern opera despite its 250 years of unmerited obscurity.
Though 2013 is the bicentennial of the births of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, the releases of Cecilia Bartoli’s recording of Bellini’s Norma on DECCA, a new studio recording of Donizetti’s Caterina Cornaro from Opera Rara, and this première recording of Saverio Mercadante’s forgotten I due Figaro, suggest that this is the start of a summer of bel canto.
Recording Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is for a
record label equivalent to a climber reaching the summit of Mount Everest: it is the zenith from which a label surveys its position among its rivals and appreciates an achievement that can define its reputation for a generation.
04 Jul 2007
DONIZETTI: Don Pasquale
An ingenious and handsome staging, in the proper period and full of delicious color, fashion and furnishings, a production that honors the compatibility of tradition with good fun, and four singers who look their parts, play the farce, and are as easy on the ears as on the eyes — what more could you want from a Don Pasquale?
Item: Pasquale’s handsome wood-paneled library folds into a box — to
be trundled on and off at will. But on the side of the box is a grand baroque
window to overlook the garden serenade of the last scene, and that ornamental
window looks suspiciously like a jowly old man with bald pate, bulging eyes,
pork nose and gaping, furious mouth — a pun on an ornamental style and on
the story of the piece.
Item: Part one concludes with “Sofronia,” fresh from her convent and
dressed in demure gray gown, bonnet and veil, usurping control of her new
“husband’s” home; Part two then begins with the remodeled home full of
rushing servants under the cold stare of that severe veiled figure — but
it’s a trick; it’s only the costume on a dressmaker’s dummy, soon
replaced by “Sofronia” herself in rather gayer attire.
Item: As “Sofronia,” now Norina, sings her last delicious waltz, a
befuddled Pasquale sits alone, sadly isolated with “Sofronia’s”
twinkling shawl — but Norina, with a kiss, and Ernesto, with an embracing
arm, coax him to accept his defeat.
In short, the director’s “business” and the designers’ jokes take
delicious advantage of opportunities found in the ancient story itself, but
never push them beyond the bounds of wit or taste.
Ferruccio Furlanetto is the unsophisticated old rogue who learns a lesson;
he sounds woolly and day-dreamy and fine, playing the unsophisticated
aspirant roué who is in fact too shy to speak to a strange girl, though his
delivery of the patter could be quicker. Nuccia Focile, whose soprano is
gratefully, sensuously darker than the chirp of such classic Norinas as Grist
and Sciutti, has no problem with the coloratura of “So anch’io la virtu
magica,” but comes into her own in “Tornami a dir.” Her slimness and
agility and very Italian features don’t hurt, and in her talent and vocal
quality and care for the style she is, I think, the best candidate among
young Italian sopranos for the mantle of Mirella Freni. Gregory Kunde gives
Ernesto’s music an endearing bloom with fine arching phrases, and he makes
a stalwart figure — for once our tenor is not a cipher. Lucio Gallo
connives but does not distract as the doctor, whose plot is — well — the
plot of the opera. Riccardo Muti, famous for following the score to the
letter, seems to have noticed that Donizetti intended his last comic opera to
sparkle; sparkle it does.